November is Alzheimer’s Awareness Month, so it was a fitting time for Digital Jungle Pictures to present the premiere of their new film, “BROKEN MEMORIES,” written by Frankie Lauderdale and directed by Michael Worth. All proceeds of the star-studded evening supported Alzheimer’s Greater Los Angeles (ALZGLA), the exclusive full-service dementia-focused nonprofit that serves the Los Angeles area.
Supported by Ivan Sergei and Kelly Grayson, Rance Howard stars in the film, and today, November 17th, marks Mr. Howard’s 89th birthday. It is quite remarkable that he, at age 89, filmed what might be considered the role of his lifetime.
Mr. Howard portrays “Jasper,” an Alzheimer’s patient with broken memories yet with an unbreakable spirit. The love in his heart is pure and clear as day, though the names and faces of those whom he loves are confused and cloudy. Mr. Howard gives audiences a tender, compassionate, and nuanced performance – heartbreaking at times, hilarious at others.
To celebrate his father’s career performance, Mr. Howard’s son, Ron Howard, and granddaughter, Bryce Dallas Howard, attended the premiere and introduced the screening. “[The film is] compelling… entertaining… engrossing… powerful,” Ron Howard said of “BROKEN MEMORIES.” He continued, “it’s humanity, it’s nobility, it’s humor.”
Bryce Dallas Howard spoke so fondly about her grandfather as well, recounting how Mr. Howard, himself, was the chief caregiver to his recently deceased wife of seventeen years, Judy, who was an Alzheimer’s patient. Mr. Howard was recently diagnosed with the disease after filming was complete.
“BROKEN MEMORIES” deals with the fact that Alzheimer’s Disease is frustrating for both the patient as well as the patient’s family members and caregivers. The patient wavers between an awareness and an unawareness of their own memory loss, while surrounding family members feel the constant, gradual decay of their loved one’s memory function. It is a slow and very painful process for all to endure, and the film captures that struggle in a somehow uplifting and light, yet emotional and touching way.
As someone who has been personally affected by family members stricken with Alzheimer’s, I found the premiere of “BROKEN MEMORIES” to be a particularly emotional night. My maternal grandfather, Dr. Joseph Azorsky, and my paternal grandmother, Mrs. Clara Greenberg, were both victims of what is now considered to be the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S. and currently affecting approximately 5 million people. My grandmother’s illness personally impacted me, not only as a close family member, but as a musician as well… I will never forget witnessing firsthand the great power of music, when, at the end, my grandmother could not remember the names of people she knew well, yet recalled song lyrics and melodies from when she was a young woman. It was a life changing experience for me to observe how music can have such a profound, lasting impact.
“BROKEN MEMORIES” is an important film about Alzheimer’s Disease, and it leaves audiences asking the question Jasper posits in the film: is who we are defined by what we remember? The film offers the answer that it is our personality and spirit that define who we are – and, as evidenced by Jasper’s unyielding good nature and positive energy, personality and spirit never fade.
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